This year the garden and yard has been great for producing. But when it does, it demands your full attention. Should you ignore it, the window of opportunity will close, and it will be next year before any goodies can be made from the harvest.
I just had to madly pick all the spinach and get it in the freezer before it all flowered, and it’s starting to feel like we’re living off salads from home grown lettuce! Not that I’d ever complain! There’s nothing better then food from the garden!
Meanwhile those bright red, juicy dots, drooping off the branches of the cherry tree are calling to me. We’ve been watching them get brighter and know that it’s only a matter of time before the cherry season is past. I was given some rhubarb from a friend (my plants no longer producing like it used to) that was waiting in the fridge to be used so I thought “Cherry rhubarb jam!”.
I sent the boyfriend up the ladder to begin the harvest. Bag after bag was filled and even after giving some away we were still left with a lot. I hunkered down out on the back porch, got some good tunes playing on the radio and began pitting. These aren’t your typical cherries that you buy from the grocery store or road side stand. They are smaller, a much brighter red and sweeter then any other cherry I have tried. I use a tooth pick to do my pitting. It works well and leaves most of the flesh behind. Simply stick the toothpick in, drag it around the pit and give the cherry a squish. It’s a bit messy and somewhat sticky but with patience you’ll get the job done.(I tried this method on the larger, more common cherry and it worked good for them as well).
Once I had pitted as much as I was going to for that day I gave the cherries a rinse with water to get rid of any dirt. We don’t use any sprays so washing them isn’t a real big deal. I picked a few stalks of rhubarb from my plant, grabbed my friends contribution from the fridge and chopped up the required amount. Then I packed it all up and headed over to moms. Her kitchen is so much more user friendly and she has all the canning supplies.
I used a recipe for strawberry rhubarb jam as a guide, then I made some changes as I went. I couldn’t find much in the way of cherry rhubarb jam recipes that I thought would be really great. The recipe I based mine off of was from allrecipes.com.
To start I sterilized twelve 250 ml canning jars and lids and set them aside. Then I mixed the cherries, rhubarb, lemon juice and sugar in a pot over medium heat, adding one cup of sugar at a time as it dissolved. Once all the sugar was dissolved, I turned the heat up to bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, cooking until the rhubarb was soft.
Using the jelly funnel and a ladle I packed the jars, leaving a 1/4 inch head space. You can run a knife or a thin spatula around the insides of the jars after filling to remove any air bubbles but I skipped this. I didn’t notice it to be a problem.( I should also mention that I didn’t get weird about the foam either. It’s all edible so I didn’t bother skimming it off as I cooked). I wiped the rims of the jars with a clean paper towel, to get rid of any residue, topped with the lids and screwed on the rings.
Get the water in the water bath canner boiling over high heat. Rest the rack in it’s upper position in the pot. Place the jars onto the rack, allowing them to have space between them (I did two separate processes). Then carefully lower the jars into the water. Make sure there is at least 1 inch of water over the tops of the jars. Return it to a full boil and process for 5 minutes.
Remove the jars from the water using the clamps and allow to cool on a cloth or cooling pad. To help them set, don’t move them until they are cooled. To ensure they have sealed press on the lids with your finger. If they don’t pop up and down under your finger then the seal is good. If one didn’t seal don’t panic! That’s just the one you get to put on your toast first and keep it in the fridge. Store the rest in a cool dark area. Or do what I do and use them as ways to barter trades for other homemade creations, such as homemade pickles, fresh eggs, other jams and jellies, the list can go on!
The sweetness of the cherries and the tartness of the rhubarb go so perfectly together! I’m extra glad that I made a large batch so I can still share and keep some for myself! Canning is such a great way to use local in season produce to be enjoyed even in the dead of winter. What kind of creations have you made with cherries?!
For making it this far I’m going to give you this little gem. Avocado cherry salsa! I made it last night and it was amazing! Scroll down for the info.
- 4 1/4 C pitted cherries
- 4 1/4 C diced rhubarb
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Approx 100 grams powdered fruit pectin
- 8 C white sugar
- water bath canner
- canning jars
- canning lids and rings
- jar lifter and canning funnel
- large pot
- large spoons
- paper towel
Place cherries, rhubarb, lemon juice and fruit pectin into a large pot over medium heat. Stir frequently to help the liquid start to form. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved and the juice begins to simmer. Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Cook until rhubarb is tender, skimming off any foam that forms.
Sterilize the jars and lids in boiling water for at least 5 minutes. With a jelly funnel and soup ladle, pack the jam into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Run a knife or thin spatula around the insides of the jars after they are filled to remove any air bubbles. Use a clean paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars, then top with lids and screw on rings, finger tight.
Place the canning rack in the upper position of the water bath canner, 2/3 full of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, place the jars on the rack and carefully lower into the pot. Ensure there is space between the jars and at least 1 inch of water above them. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot, and process for 5 minutes.
Remove the jars from the pot and place onto a cloth, several inches apart, to cool. To help the jam set don’t touch or move the jars until cooled. Once cool, press on the top of each lid. If the lid does not pop up and down then the seal is tight. Store in a cool, dark area.
Avocado Cherry Salsa
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- 2 C sweet cherries, pitted and chopped
- 1/3 large red onion, diced
- 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced
- 1/4 C chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 avocado, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl combine cherries, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, olive oil and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper. Let stand for 15 mins. Fold in Avocado and serve immediately.
I served this on chili lime marinated chicken thighs. It was delicious! This recipe does make a lot though so be prepared for left overs. Not that you’ll mind!
Here is the link for the original recipe I based this off of – Grilled Chicken with Avocado Cherry Salsa